How to Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Protecting & Preserving the Playa

There is no garbage collection service at Burning Man. We are the largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event in the world — LNT is one of our core principles — and it is up to all of us to ensure the longterm survival of our event by practicing LNT techniques to remove all Matter Out of Place (MOOP) from Black Rock City. That means we are ALL responsible for trash in Black Rock City, and every camp is responsible for its refuse. EVERYTHING you bring has potential to become trash: tent stakes, bottle caps, ashes, wood debris, orange peels, cigarette butts, pistachio shells, rope fibers, sequins—even abandoned bikes. Our Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit allows for a very short time to restore the playa to its original condition, and we can only satisfy the BLM stipulations and pass inspections if all citizens share in the responsibility to line-sweep their camps and the city for MOOP. Also know that the BLM will enforce playa surface protection this year with the help of the Black Rock Rangers.

Prepare To Leave No Trace

There are things you can do in advance of your departure for Burning Man to start your LNT efforts off right and make LNT easier when you are on playa:

  • Prepare BOTH a Leave No Trace plan AND a cleanup plan for your camp, so you can LNT as you go and have less to clean up and restore before you leave.
  • Remove all excess packaging from everything you buy (food, supplies, tools) before you pack it.
  • Don’t bring glass containers of any kind — they can shatter. Metal bottles and plates work well.
  • Smokers: make a portable ashtray (a mint tin, for instance) to collect your cigarette butts and ashes.
  • Bring extra tarps to put under MOOP-heavy areas like your kitchen, construction areas and workspaces.
  • Bring cardboard, a tarp, or pan to place under your vehicle’s oil pan to collect any drippings.
  • Bring rope or tie-downs to secure everything in your camp, and to securely strap down your load on top of your vehicle.
  • Pack some work gloves to help you pick up the sharp bits, and a magnet rake to help pick up metal.
  • Bring an easy-to-carry mug to use at the Café.
  • Leave anything at home (living or dead) that will break up and blow away in the wind. Plants are not allowed, as they die and make a mess — use artificial ones instead. Don’t bring loose glitter, feather boas, Astroturf, styrofoam coolers, plastic bags, sheets of paper, string, disposable drink cups, hay bales, straw, gravel—they can blow away in the wind or turn into MOOPy messes before you know it.
  • Don’t bring large or public swimming pools or public showers. All that water creates a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up and poses public health issues.
  • Learn how to make an evaporation device (see for some great ideas) and properly dispose of your grey water.

Leave No Trace on Playa

  • Never let it hit the ground and clean as you go. MOOP attracts more MOOP. When you see trash on the ground in BRC, pick it up and take it with you – you won’t see it later as layers of dust accumulate.
  • Weight it down. Put a weight on or tie down anything that can blow away.
  • Smokers: Carry a portable ashtray (such as a mint tin) with you at all times, or put butts in your pocket. NEVER, EVER drop butts on the playa or in public areas like the Café or porta-potties. Help keep cigarette butts from being one of the top MOOP items!
  • If it wasn’t made by your body, don’t put it in the potty. No tampons, trash, cigarette butts, etc. One ply toilet paper ONLY.
  • Bring tarps or drop cloths to place under all firewood, construction areas, kitchens and other areas with small and potentially loose materials. Put weighted cardboard, a pan, or secured tarp under your vehicle to catch any fluids that may leak.
  • Bring your own mug to the Center Camp Café for coffee and tea. If you bring your own bottled or canned beverages to the Café, please take the drink containers back to your camp or visit Recycle Camp where you can recycle your aluminum cans. There are no trash cans provided in BRC, including in the Café.
  • Do not dump grey water onto the playa. See the Burning Man website for collection, treatment, and disposal alternatives, and this list of places to take your grey water after the event.
  • If you have an RV be sure to bring a five gallon bucket to catch any grey or black water leaks from your plumbing.
  • Make a MOOP bucket. Cut a 3” hole in the top of an empty plastic water jug, leaving the handle intact, to use for collecting and containing MOOP. For dust that has glass, wood chips, bark or anything too small to pick up, sweep it into a dust pan and deposit in a bucket for disposal at home.
  • Carry a MOOP bag. Wherever you go, carry a small bag to collect any MOOP you find. Some customize their MOOP bags to make them a part of their playa wear.
  • Burn Barrel Ashes. If you plan to use a burn barrel, bring a shovel and metal containers to scoop up and remove any ashes. Remember that all burn barrels must be elevated 10" off the playa surface to prevent burn scars.

Before You Leave Black Rock City

  • Line-sweep your camp. Walk shoulder-to-shoulder with your campmates and clean your campsite in a grid pattern. Pick up EVERYTHING. Use a magnet bar or rake to go over your entire camp and conduct a final MOOP line-sweep to inspect your space.
  • Community Clean-Up. You are asked to join your neighbors on Sunday and Monday after the burn for two hours of MOOPing Black Rock City in addition to your own camp clean up—pick a well-traveled area. If you need, the Earth Guardians in Center Camp can help direct you to a specific cleanup project.
  • Sort your trash and recycling for easy drop off at collection centers on your way home.
  • Secure and cover your load! Pack carefully and make sure your trash and other items do not come loose on the ride home and litter our highways.

On Your Way Home

  • Leave No Trace does NOT end when you hit the pavement. DO NOT dump your trash ANYWHERE in neighboring communities that is not a designated dumping spot. A list of places for your waste and recycling can be found here.
  • Stop periodically and check to make sure your vehicle’s load is secured and hasn’t loosened in the wind.